“Family Home Evening as a Missionary Tool,” Liahona, June 2005, 34
Many Latter-day Saints are looking for ways to become better missionaries to family members or friends. Here some members describe how they followed the prophets’ counsel to hold family home evening and found that it is not only a way to build stronger family relationships, but also a way to bring a glimpse of the gospel to others.
Being the only member of the Church in my family was not easy. I longed for a way to share all I had learned about the Church with my family but feared they would accuse me of trying to convert them. I struggled with doubts. I knew the Lord wanted me to share the gospel with my family, but for more than a year I was too afraid to suggest that we have family home evening.
Finally, with my heart racing in fear, I asked the Lord for courage and strength to invite my family to have family home evening. To my surprise they said an enthusiastic “Yes!” to the suggestion, and our relationship has never been better.
Through family home evening I have been able to share the gospel and my testimony with everyone from my mother to my three-year-old niece. What a blessing it has been to read the Book of Mormon with them and hear that they believe what they are reading. In addition, the missionaries have been welcomed into our home to assist in our scripture study.
The greatest blessing is that in such a busy time of work, school, and other activities, my family is committed to meeting together every Monday and devoting an hour to learning more about the Lord. Laughing, singing, and kneeling together in family prayer have brought a tremendous sense of peace and love to our home.
Arlene Pryce, Don Valley Ward, Toronto Ontario Stake
I can still remember the joy I felt the day I was baptized. However, not long after, I felt disappointment as the missionaries suggested I stop associating with some of my current acquaintances and find a more appropriate circle of friends. Their words seemed harsh to me, an 18-year-old high school senior, but trusting them, I did as they counseled.
Understanding my need for friends in the Church, the missionaries soon invited me to participate in family home evening with some ward members. I was eager to understand more about my new faith, so I gratefully went to the Shaffer family’s home.
The Shaffers’ home became a haven where, in the nonthreatening atmosphere of simple family home evenings, I learned what it is to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After dozens of family nights at the Shaffers’ and a year of Church membership, I accepted a call to serve a full-time mission.
My father had feelings against the Church and didn’t want me to go. I left, entrusting him to the Shaffers. It was nothing short of a miracle when just four months into my mission I received word from my father of his decision to be baptized. The Shaffers had taken him into their home for home evenings, just as they had done for me. Their efforts made it easier for him to understand the gospel and become converted to it.
Ruben Perez, Cordova Ward, Memphis Tennessee North Stake
Ten years had passed since I had been baptized into the Church, but I had been less active for about nine of them. During that time I had married and now had a seven-year-old daughter. My mother and siblings were living with us when a friend reintroduced them to the Church, and the missionaries started coming to our home. I had a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but the knowledge I had acquired of the Church had melted away.
My husband became friends with the elders and, almost without knowing it, started taking the discussions. Each discussion took about a week; it was hard for him to accept the divinity of Jesus Christ. Nine months after being taught the first discussion, my husband felt he was not receiving answers to his prayers.
One morning when the missionaries came to pray with me for my husband, I felt impressed that I needed to help him recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost. The missionaries had given us a family home evening manual, and the next Monday I sat down with my husband and daughter and began my first family home evening by giving a lesson on the Holy Ghost. My husband listened in silence as he pondered the subject. The influence of the Spirit was very strong that night, and I could feel the Holy Ghost confirming the truthfulness of the Church, something I had not felt for a long time. The next day my husband bore his testimony to me and told me that the Spirit had borne witness to him and he had recognized it. That night we lit in our hearts a fire that was eternal and inextinguishable.
One week later my husband was baptized, and one year later we were sealed in the São Paulo Brazil Temple. We feel that sacrament meeting is the most important meeting we go to, and next in line is family home evening.
Elizabeth Duce de Mernies, Lezica Ward, Montevideo Uruguay North Stake
My new husband and I knew the importance of family home evening in helping families learn to love each other and grow together, but our children were grown and on their own. It was hard for us to hold a family night until we decided to invite my husband’s mother. At the time my mother-in-law was 74 years old and belonged to another church. She worked in a flower shop and scarcely ventured from her routine of going to work and then home.
At first she was a little hesitant to come because she knew nothing of our faith, but now she looks forward to Monday nights. We share dinners, laughter, and music and have become very close. We know that she does not want us to try to convert her, but she does allow us to share stories about our faith. One evening I read a talk from one of the Church leaders. We all felt the Spirit. We have had opportunities to show her the Ensign, and she looks at every page. We have taught her what temples are for, and she has watched Church videos. We do these things sparingly, as the Spirit guides us.
Before one of our family home evenings, I asked her to teach the lesson. She brought pictures of herself when she was young and of my husband when he was a baby. I heard stories of aunts, uncles, grandmas, and grandpas. The happiness in her eyes as she relived these experiences made my heart almost burst. I realized then that the commandment to have family home evening is divine instruction from our Father in Heaven.
Many doors have been opened for my mother-in-law to learn things pertaining to the gospel. I don’t know that she will become a member of the Church during her life on earth, but I do know that our family has been strengthened and our love increased.
Dani Jeanne Stevens, Logan Ward, Huntington West Virginia Stake
Late one Monday night when my husband and I were busily working in our home, our seven-year-old son, Sergio, appeared. “Well, nobody remembered family home evening,” he said. “I guess you’re not interested.”
My husband had come home late, and he tiredly explained that we had been too busy and still had much to do before we could turn in for the night. At that we continued with our work.
After a few moments we realized Sergio was reading his illustrated Book of Mormon Stories reader all by himself. My husband and I looked at each other and silently agreed that, even if it was late, we shouldn’t deny ourselves the chance to hold family home evening.
When we went into the living room, Sergio told us in all seriousness that we didn’t need to be concerned because he had already started his “individual home evening” and had sung a hymn, said a prayer, and now he was giving the lesson. We stayed and listened as our boy talked about the First Vision.
That night our son was a powerful missionary to us, testifying of the importance of family home evening. My husband and I realized that often we try to teach principles that we are not completely willing to obey. What a wonderful experience we would have missed if we had not participated in that individual home evening.
Cecila Lozada, Maranga Ward, Lima Perú Maranga Stake
“We have a family home evening program once a week [Monday night] across the Church in which parents sit down with their children. They study the scriptures. They talk about family problems. They plan family activities and things of that kind. I don’t hesitate to say if every family in the world practiced that one thing, you’d see a very great difference in the solidarity of the families of the world.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Family Home Evening,” Liahona and Ensign, Mar. 2003, 3.